By Christina Gleason
As the MOMocrats team prepares to head to Philadelphia to cover the Democratic National Convention, we would like to take this opportunity to lobby for reasonable accommodations for a neglected subset of Democratic delegates with disabilities. As a neurodiversity consultant, disability advocate, and disabled person myself, it is my honor to introduce a petition on the behalf of MOMocrats and visually impaired delegates and convention attendees:
The DNC is a private organization that is not bound to adhere to all ADA best practices in serving its disabled member-delegates. At the 2016 Convention, great progress has been made to add Audio Description (narration for visually impaired people of video live-stream of events). In previous conventions as well as this current one, there has been provision for sign language accompaniment of major speeches and events as well as closed captioning of video material, and physical access for mobility-impaired attendees in accordance with ADA laws. This is all praiseworthy.
But the accommodations for visually impaired delegates have not kept pace. Given barriers that Democratic Party 2016 convention delegates with vision impairment have experienced in trying to gain access, it’s time for the Democratic National Convention to commit to the following to guarantee full future participation by visually impaired people:
1) non-voting floor credentials for their personal sighted/abled aides. Some blind and visually impaired delegates, for example, require people to help them navigate in crowded, complex situations a guide dog or other assistive device cannot.
2) space in Convention center(s) for a workstation with a computer and a scanner so that print documents can be scanned and digitized with an OCDR program like Kurtzweil so that blind delegates can participate fully in the proceedings. Blind/visually impaired delegates may also need a page to run the documents to the office and an office member or a volunteer to scan the documents. (If the volunteer is not familiar with Kurtzweil they will need to be trained in advance.)
3) access to the disability agenda organizers so delegates with disabilities can be full participants in meetings the Democratic Party might hold on platform language and policy regarding those issues.
4) official adoption of ADA best practices for all disabled people, including the visually impaired, into the the DNC charter so this private organization can ensure full participation of all attendees.
Sign the petition now!
Please help low-vision/visually impaired people fully access the DNC in Philly! Sign and share the petition here. MOMocrats
I can’t believe that the DNC has not long since already incorporated ADA best practices into its charter. It is FLABBERGASTING to me that an orgnization that boasts inclusion would have such an oversight. Certainly the accommodations listed (and any others that are appropriate) should be put in place in Philly, and at ALL major DNC events. It’s LUDICROUS that they aren’t.
Contact these people immediately! http://www.libertyresources.org/
As a person who has very recently become blind in my right eye, I support this 100% and have signed the petition.
Please sign and circulate among your US network and friends.
I contacted the DNCC weeks ago about the need to provide reasonable accommodations for delegates who will be attending the Convention who have very low or no vision. I have MDD and detached retinas, and therefore little vision and almost no night vision or depth perception.
After arranging for my adult daughter to attend the Convention with me for five days as my aide, even at an added cost, I was told that she would not be able to ride the state delegate bus with me in Philadelphia, and she would not be able to attend the evening sessions with me. It is my understanding that we will be transported by bus at night from the Wells Fargo Center, and must locate the appropriate bus to take us to whatever will be our next venue, which may be a hotel or after party. Navigating that is tricky for me, even during the day. I don’t want to be left behind, manage to get separated, or catch the wrong bus, as has happened before.
In addition, I inquired whether all delegates would be seated on the flat Main (1st) floor of the Wells Fargo Center since I have little depth perception, and an aversion to heights. I was told there would be no way of guaranteeing that there would not be risers or high steps to climb in the arena style setting, Depending on which state you are with, there may be climbing.
That is the very reason I need my daughter nearby, not some usher to help me to my seat, and later forget I need to get down, which is the scary part. After all, I did pay extra money for my daughter to attend (more than the amount delegates pay), but having done so, I want her with me as my aide.
Having fallen and rolled down a 12 level riser in front of a live audience before, I can tell you it is not only extremely embarrassing, it is also extremely painful, very dangerous for someone with detached retinas, and even life threatening. This is more than just about whether I feel included or excluded from all the Convention action. I don’t want to get hurt.
Finally, I also asked whether, visually impaired delegates will be able to have front seating in the many workshops and committee meetings that will take place during the daytime. I was told there would be no way of accommodating that need either.
While I agree with all the expensive accommodations and services which are being provided to the hearing impaired, the visually impaired need accommodations also, many of which amount to little more than additional consideration and flexibility, which is FREE.
Delegates who have already self-identified as visually impaired when they registered should be allowed to keep their aide with them throughout the day and evening hours, that includes riding the same transportation, and accompanying the delegate at events and meetings. It is smarter to say yes than to face even one law suit because a no answer was given without thinking about the risk management aspects.